Sensitivity of multiple life stages of 2 freshwater mussel species (Unionidae) to various pesticides detected in Ontario (Canada) surface waters Academic Article uri icon

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  • Freshwater mussels contribute important ecological functions to aquatic systems. The water filtered by mussel assemblages can improve water quality, and the mixing of sediments by burrowing mussels can improve oxygen content and release nutrients. However, nearly 70% of North American freshwater mussel species are listed as either endangered, threatened, or in decline. In Ontario, 28 species are in decline or in need of protection. Even though freshwater mussels have a heightened sensitivity to some contaminants, few studies have investigated the risks that various pesticide classes pose to one freshwater mussel species or among life stages. Lampsilis siliquoidea and Villosa iris were the focus of the present study, with the latter currently listed as of "special concern" in Canada. A potential risk to the recovery of freshwater mussel species is the presence and persistence of pesticides in Ontario surface waters. Acute (48 h) toxicity tests were performed with V. iris glochidia to determine the effect on viability (surrogate for survival) following exposure to 4 fungicides (azoxystrobin, boscalid, metalaxyl, and myclobutanil), 3 neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam), 2 carbamates (carbaryl and malathion), 1 organophosphate (chlorpyrifos), and 1 butenolide (flupyradifurone). Juvenile and adult L. siliquoidea were also exposed to azoxystrobin, clothianidin, imidacloprid (juvenile only), and carbaryl (adult only). Our study found in general that all life stages were insensitive to the pesticides tested, with median effect and lethal concentrations >161 µg/L. The pesticides tested likely represent a minimal risk (hazard quotients <5.4 × 10-3 ) to freshwater mussel viability and survival in acute (48 h) and subchronic (28 d) exposures, respectively, in Ontario streams where pesticide concentrations were considerably lower than those tested in the present study. Environ Toxicol Chem 2018;37:2871-2880. © 2018 SETAC.


  • Salerno, Joseph
  • Bennett, Charles J
  • Holman, Emily
  • Gillis, Patricia L
  • Sibley, Paul K
  • Prosser, Ryan

publication date

  • November 2018